Koreans officially follow the Gregorian calendar, although there are some holidays that based on the lunar calendar. During the official holidays, offices and banks close. But palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores and entertainment venues remain open.
Seollal or 설날 (Lunar New Year) and Chuseok or 추석 (Thanksgiving Day) are the most important dates for Koreans. When people visit their hometowns to celebrate with their families.
Seollal or 설날 (From 7 to 10 February)
At Seollal, Koreans perform a cult in memory of their ancestors and practice the sebae, a formal reverence of respect for the elders as a New Year greeting. The holiday is much more significant than January 1st.
Most businesses close and people take days off from work to visit the city. Where their parents and family are born or where they live.
On Seollal’s day, everyone gets up early and puts on their best clothes. Bows to their elders in a sign of respect and as a reaffirmation of family ties.
At parties some typical foods from this date are tteokguk (rice cake soup) and mandu-guk (meatball soup). People also come together to play popularly traditional games (such as Yut Nori) as well as poking kites and playing pikes.
Independence Movement Day (March 1)
This day commemorates Korea’s first attempt to obtain the liberation of Japan on March 1, 1919. This was the day when the Koreans openly resisted the Japanese occupation and fought for their release.
The Koreans took to the streets, marching and shouting “Mansei!” Which means “Long live Korea!” Or “Korea live 10,000 years!”. The Japanese fought to suppress the movement, 12 months later completely restrained.
Labor Day (May 1)
Although Labor Day is not a national holiday, banks and shops close and many people enjoy the day off.
Children’s Day (May 5)
On this day, parents spend the day with their children, taking them to parks, zoos, or the movies, giving them a fun filled day.
Buddha’s Birthday (May 14)
On the eight days of the fourth lunar month, elaborate and solemn rituals performed in many temples across the country and lanterns are hung in the temple courts to commemorate Buddha’s birthday.
Especially on the Sunday before the day of joy, there is a beautiful parade of paper lanterns. And young monks stroll through the streets that get brighter at night.
Memorial Day (June 6)
Memorial Day is reserved to honor the soldiers and civilians who gave their lives for their country. The largest ceremony held at the Seoul National Cemetery.
Constitution Day (July 17)
This day commemorates the proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea made on July 17, 1948.
Liberation Day (August 15)
On this day, celebrate Independence Day or Gwangbokjeol, known locally. Translated literally, the term means “The day the light returned”, and also commemorates the liberation of Korea after 35 years of Japanese colonial rule.
Chuseok or 추석 (September 14-16)
Chuseok is one of the most important traditional holidays of the year. Celebrated on the 15th of the eighth lunar month. The Chuseok is often called a Korean Thanksgiving.
It is a celebration of thanksgiving for the good harvest and the generosity of the land. People travel from various corners of the country to visit their ancestral homes.
National Foundation Day (October 3)
This day commemorates the founding of the Korean nation in 2333 BC by the legendary king-god Dangun. A simple ceremony held at an altar at the top of the mountain on Ganghwado Manisan Island.
People say that this altar, built by Dangun himself, is to offer thanks to his grandfather and great-grandfather.
Hangeul Day (October 9)
The Korean Alphabet Day is a celebration to celebrate the creation of the hangeul, the native alphabet of the country created by King Sejong on this day, in 1446.
Pepero Day (November 11)
Pepero Day is in South Korea similar to Valentine’s Day from Western countries, but celebrates on November 11. The original purpose of Pepero Day was to exchange Peperos with one another in the hope of becoming taller and thinner.
But the current goal is to change peperos as a way to show affection for friends and loved ones.
Christmas (December 25)
Christmas is as a national holiday in Korea as in many other countries, since part of the population is Christian.
Let’s mark everyone on our calendar so we do not miss any and stay connected on Korean holidays. Until the next post!